Although it isnt’ notorious as the “heart of rock and roll,” Atlanta has produced its share of successful musicians, some actually coming from Emory. After graduating from Emory in the mid-80s, local Atlanta guitarist, singer and songwriter Todd Mack has joined the few by pursuing a career in music.
With a musical mix of roots-style rock and roll and traditional based folk, Mack has performed regularly in Atlanta since 1988. he has also performed in places such as Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse. Asheville, N.C.’s Be Here Now and New York City’s Speakeasy.
Over the years, Mack has united with a variety of musicians such as The Cosmic Gypsies, and innovative folk-rock band whose instruments included guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, fiddle and mondolin.
Mack has been preparing to tour behind his newly released album Looking for Leon, a collection of twelve original songs rooted in the traditions of folk and rock styles. It was released on Dog Driver Records.
Listing Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Richard Thompson, Paul Simon and Loudon Wainwright III as his musical influences. Mack considers himself both a folk and rock performer. His specific style is an eclectic mix of these influences, which he terms “Folk-n-Roll.” He describes his music as being on the “gritty” side, “not necessarily soothing or pretty—music from the gut.”
His songs tend to carry the listener from this world into another. his lyrics tell short stories or tales that sometimes have sad endings, but nevertheless reach out and communicate to the listener.
Creative Loafing, an Atlanta weekly newspaper, described Mack as “a practitioner of long, picturesque songs with a strong acoustic guitar strumming pointendly in the wings. his lyrics are, for lack of a better term, Dylanesque, while his scruffy vocals bring to mind Gordon Lightfoot.”
Throughout the years, Mack has attracted a loyal following in Atlanta. The mailing list he started five or six years ago has close to 1,000 names today. At this point, though, Mack wants to expand even more.
“I'm in it for the record deal. II want to be able to write m own music, play it, record it and make a living at it,” he said. “The more knowledgeable you are on the business level, the more record companies are going to want to deal with you.”
Mack also plans to do more shows, saturate Atlanta with publicity of local shows, acquire more press coverage, generate radio airplay and distribute his CD to larger publications, such as Rolling Stone.
The change in Mack’s business philosophy is parallel to the mature sound of the current release. Produced and engineered by Blair Lott, a burgeoning producer who has worked with several notable names, the new album is described by Mack as rising “out of the garage and into the house.”
The chemistry seems to be right this time because Mack and his new producer have received “a lot more yes and a lot less rejection.” With the release of Looking for Leon, the bulk of Mack’s work is ahead of him. He is continually writing new music, but he does not want to get bogged down in it.
“Writing is more like a treat, to get away from the brainfry of trying to get heard,” he said.
The true treat, though, is the refreshingly original sound Mack displays on Looking for Leon.